Tag Archive | choices

CELEBRATE ACHIEVEMENT NOT CELEBRITY

Base jumper Vincent Philippe Benjamin Re

You don’t find monkeys base jumping, or gorillas scaling Mount Kilimanjaro, or chimps parachuting from planes at 20,000 feet.

Only human beings have a desire to transcend their natural limitations, to take risks in order to make a mark and be remembered.

What’s more, only human beings long to make a difference in the world. Whether it’s through making some breakthrough for science, or defining a new point of excellence in our profession, or giving our time and money for charity, or even raising great kids, we long to leave a legacy.

We are wired for significance through achievement.

The Judeo/Christian faith teaches that humankind is made in the image of a wise, benevolent, just and, above all, loving Father. We were made to inhabit a special place of favour under God, overseeing his natural creation and developing its awesome potential.

In this, we are like God himself. Throughout the Bible, God revealed himself as someone who thinks in epic, heroic terms.

The God of the Bible aligns himself with the underdog; he exalts the lowly and brings success to the little guy, in defiance of the odds; think David and Goliath.

God takes risks.
The birth of Jesus labelled the incarnation was the greatest risk of all. According to the Bible, God the Son took on human form to rescue us from ourselves, to redeem our lives to bring us into the Kingdom of heaven. As St. John put it, ‘he came unto his own, but his own received him not.’

This was a massive risk. Human beings are creatures of free will, with the capacity to accept or refuse any gift, no matter how lovingly it is given. The sinful, fallen tendencies in our nature makes us more likely to walk away from God than to accept him, even when He comes to teach us profound things about love and to perform amazing acts of mercy.

From a human standpoint – and we must remember that Jesus who was fully God was also fully man and so as a human – the cross was a heroic act. The four gospels amplify the fact that Jesus had every chance to avoid it.

On many occasions, he foretold how he would die – and why. His disciples couldn’t understand what he was saying. ‘What’s all this talk about dying?’ they thought, ‘He’s so full of life!’

In the last week of his life, Jesus’ every word and action seems to have been designed to bring on a confrontation with the authorities and eventually hasten his demise. All along, he was pursuing the cross.

‘No man takes my life from me,’ he said. ‘I lay it down willingly.’ He was no victim of circumstance: taking this path was his choice.

Jesus may have thought: ‘What if nobody ever remembers this moment? What if my death is forgotten, my life and all that I’ve done simply buried in history? What if people don’t accept this salvation which, for me, comes at such a high price?’

Today, the life and death of Christ form a standard against which other human achievements are measured.

They show us that achievement often comes on the other side of adversity; that heroism is usually born in the fires of trial; that the world is changed not by celebrity-seekers but by people who take self-denying risks to improve the lot of others.

In a culture that is so smitten with the self-importance of celebrity, so taken with the idea of fame for fame’s sake, it’s healthy for us to remember that celebrity itself does little to change the world for good.

If any modern day celebrity were to remind us that self-sacrifice and service, combined with a voice of hope, are the way to real and lasting influence, then perhaps their recognition could be the used as an achievement. Until then celebrity is empty. We need to celebrate the heroism of selfless accomplishments not selfish accolades.

 

Photo credit: Guardian UK

VAMPIRES DON’T SPARKLE

Twilight is for teenage girls what porn is to teenage boys: sick, twisted, evil, dangerous, deceptive, and popular.

This past weekend, millions flocked to movie theaters for the final installment of the teen vampire saga. Tragically, many were driven by their parents, including some cougar moms encouraging and joining their daughters’ obsession with handsome young males.

Our family car won’t be driving to the theater for Twilight—or over a cliff for that matter.

I want to give a special thanks to Mark Driscoll for this tough love approach article to raising kids in a Christ-less culture. Pastor Mark ranted on this garbage-tastic phenomenon before, and finds the whole genre profoundly troubling.

The popularity of supernatural soap operas has inspired some real-life demonic trends. Overreaction? Tell that to the kids biting, cutting, drinking blood—sometimes while having sex—and sinking deeper into the occult:

  • NBC News: “Teenagers obsessed with the Twilight vampire saga, or those simply fascinated with fangs, reportedly have been biting each other—hard—and then licking or sucking the blood. ‘These are kids who think they are real vampires,’ said Dr. Orly Avitzur. [. . .] ‘Having that thick, warm copper-tasting blood in my mouth is the best thing I can think of!’ wrote a teenager identified as ‘GothicGirl10’ this year. ‘Sometimes my boyfriend lets me feed off him. I let him feed off me as well.’”
  • ABC News: “Paola Hernandez, 15, said a boyfriend tried to pressure her to allow herself to be bitten. ‘He said, “I love you and that’s the way I want to show you,”’ she said. ‘I didn’t give in because it was kind of idiotic.’ She said some of her classmates, mimicking on-screen vampires, even cut their skin so they can taste one another’s blood. ‘That means you’re stuck with them, they have your blood inside of them and you have their blood and so you’re closer to each other,’ she said.”
  • Sanguinarius is a popular website for “Real Vampires” that includes a special section for teens with “advice on the problems and issues teen vamps face: school, parents, coping with awakening, how to enter the vampiric community without looking like a fool, and more.” Other resources on the site include techniques for “safe bloodletting and feeding, dealing with bloodthirst, flavoring your donor’s blood, and cooking with blood.”
  • Another support page for Real Vampires appeals to outsiders with “a few words for anyone who has ever been bullied, picked on, teased or harassed because you’re different. What you have suffered is wrong. It is wrong for anyone to hit you or harass you, or to make you hate yourself for being different, whether or not you consider yourself a vampire.”
  • The Week: “Lyle Monroe Bensley, 19, was arrested in his boxer shorts after he allegedly broke into the Galveston, Texas, home of a randomly chosen single woman, growled and hissed at her, dragged her down the hall, and tried to bite her on her neck. . . . When the police arrested Bensley a short time later, he told them he was a 500-year-old vampire. ‘He was begging us to restrain him because he didn’t want to kill us,’ says Galveston officer Daniel Erickson. ‘He said he needed to feed.’”
  • The UK’s Channel 4 produced a documentary about the growing vampire subculture. The chance to play vampire provides an opportunity to “be nasty and evil and let my darker side out for the evening,” says one subject. The film profiles a group of teenagers in Texas who consider themselves to be real vampires (and werewolves). One explains, “When I drink someone’s blood, I feel like I own them in a sense. Like they’re mine.”

Please pray for these kids. If you know them, speak with them lovingly, honestly, biblically, and quickly. Satan is real, clever, and a deceiver who “disguises himself as an angel of light” (2 Cor. 11:14). He’s not going to come at us with a pitchfork and horns. More likely, he’ll attempt to lure people towards darkness with methods like “harmless” entertainment, possibly in the form of bad acting and melodrama.

As a father to a teenage girl, I find it devastating to simply read the most popular web pages that come up when searching for “teen vampire.” There, girls the same age of my 15-year-old daughter are talking about “awakening,” which is their word for converting to paganism (like the Christian word “born again”). In a perverted twist on Communion, their sacraments include the giving of your own blood by becoming a “donor.” This is entirely pagan. These storylines offer eternality without God and salvation; in the place of Jesus’ shed blood, girls and boys shed their own blood to be awakened to their own salvation of a new spiritual way of life filled with sex and occult behavior.

I do not shelter my children from these sorts of things. Pop culture is too pervasive to hide from (on a recent trip to a Barnes & Noble with my daughter we noticed an entire section of books dedicated to “Teenage Vampire Romance”). My wife and I talk to my daughter about these things so that she can be discerning, informed, and safe.

However, we do not treat things like movies, books, and TV shows as harmless entertainment, but rather a potential threat to her well-being to be aware of so she can walk in wisdom by God’s grace. I rejoice that our oldest daughter (and all of our five children) loves Jesus, see right through this demonic deception, and speak freely with us about these sorts of things. I want that for all children and families.

As a pastor and a father, I am particularly concerned for Christian parents who are naively allowing this filth into their children’s lives, buying these books and driving kids to see these movies. To such parents, “It is my prayer that your love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment, so that you may approve what is excellent, and so be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God” (Phil. 1:9–11, emphasis added).

I want to give a special thanks to Mark Driscoll for this tough love approach article to raising kids in a Christ-less culture. 

5 WAYS TO MAKE YOUR KIDS HATE CHURCH

I want to give a special thanks to Thomas Weaver from theresurgence.com for this gut check on how to make your kids hate church.  Having kids is likely the biggest responsibility one can take on in this life and sometimes we do it so flippantly.

FIVE WAYS TO MAKE YOUR KIDS HATE CHURCH

1. Make sure your faith is only something you live out in public
Go to church… at least most of the time. Make sure you agree with what you hear the preacher say, and affirm on the way home what was said especially when it has to do with your kids obeying, but let it stop there. Don’t read your Bible at home. The pastor will say everything you need to hear on Sundays. Don’t engage your children in questions they have concerning Jesus and God. Live like you want to live during the week so that your kids can see that duplicity is ok.

2. Pray only in front of people
 The only times you need to pray are when your family is over, holiday meals, when someone is sick, and when you want something. Besides that, don’t bother. Your kids will see you pray when other people are watching, no need to do it with them in private.

3. Focus on your morals
Make sure you insist your kids be honest with you. Let them know it is the right thing for them to do, but then feel free to lie in your own life and disregard the need to tell them and others the truth. Get very angry with your children when they say words that are “naughty” and “bad,” but post, read, watch, and say whatever you want on TV, Facebook, and Twitter. Make sure you focus on being a good person. Be ambiguous about what this means.

4. Give financially as long as it doesn’t impede your needs
Make a big deal out of giving at church. Stress to your children the value of tithing, while not giving sacrificially yourself. Allow them to see you spend a ton of money on what you want, while negating your command from Scripture to give sacrificially.

5. Make church community a priority… as long as there is nothing else you want to do
Hey, you are a church-going family, right? I mean, that’s what you tell your friends and family anyways. Make sure you attend on Sundays. As long as you didn’t stay up too late Saturday night. Or your family isn’t having a big barbeque. Or the big game isn’t on. Or this week you just don’t feel like it. Or… I mean, you’re a church-going family, so what’s the big deal?

THE POWER OF VISION

How to Have a Vision for Your Life From Start To Finish

How did Steven Spielberg direct and produce so many movies as successful as Jurassic Park, Saving Private Ryan, Jaws or even his latest War Horse? How does Adele write world-class music in an era when very few elite performers pen their own lyrics? How does Pixar keep churning out their animated blockbusters?

The answers all involve vision. The best leaders are able to see a vision and then activate it by stepping forward. In addition, they’re willing to sacrifice to see the vision come to fruition. Finally, they realize the importance of surrounding themselves and their vision with an incredible team.

1. See the Vision
Many people don’t jumpstart their lives because they don’t see anything to jump to! They plod along through life with little more than survival in mind. Visionaries dare to dream. They peer into the future and generate possibilities in their mind’s eye.

“The real voyage of discovery consists of not in seeking new landscapes but in having new eyes” ~Marcel Proust

The legendary sculptor, Michelangelo claimed that as he looked into the stone, “I saw the angel in the marble and carved until I set him free.” His imagination had already created his masterpieces before his hands did the work.

2. Step Toward the Vision
Some people see the vision, but they never step toward it. They cannot seem to summon the courage to overcome their fear, or they cannot find the passion to get past their apathy. As a consequence, their vision sits on the shelf until it spoils, or until someone else takes initiative to claim it.

Let me put it this way. “Vision is not enough. It must be combined with venture. It is not enough to stare up the steps; we must step up the stairs.”

More than two months before Alexander Graham Bell submitted his patent for the telegraph, Elisha Gray had already arrived at the conclusion that voice could be transmitted over a telegraph wire. Why, then, is Elisha Gray anonymous and Alexander Bell a celebrated inventor? Because Gray procrastinated two months before putting his vision on paper. Then, when he finally finished his sketch, Gray delayed another four days before taking it to the patent office. When he finally made up his mind to go, he arrived two hours too late. Bell had already secured the patent, and Gray’s idea was worthless.

3. Sacrifice for the Vision
Visionaries give up to go up. They bypass good enough to gain at shot at better or even best. If they fail, at least they go out swinging. Visionaries don’t fear failure; they only fear losing out on opportunity.

In an effort to break into the U.S. market, Cirque Du Soleil founder, Guy Laliberte, took his entire troupe from Montreal to Los Angeles. At the time, Cirque was a budding act that was barely breaking even. As legend has it, the circus did not even have gas money to return home if the show flopped. Laliberte had leveraged every resource at his disposal for the opportunity to achieve his vision of striking it rich in the United States. Thankfully for everyone involved, the show was a smash hit. Cirque Du Soleil’s success catapulted it forward in terms of recognition on the entertainment scene.

4. Seek Help for the Vision
Teamwork makes the dream work. If you can achieve your vision by flying solo, then chances are you’re not doing anything worthwhile. A big dream requires a talented team in order to take root in reality.

Wilt Chamberlain was one of the most gifted athletes to ever set foot on a basketball court. He holds the NBA record for most points in a game (100), most rebounds in a game (55), and the highest scoring average for a season (50.4 points per game). However, Wilt was so talented that he had trouble meshing with his teammates. At one point, coaches even advised him to shoot less so that other players could be involved.

Despite his exceptional abilities, Wilt never won a championship whiles the star player of his team. However, he did eventually learn to become an unselfish player. As his point totals declined, he became better and better at setting up teammates to score. Well past the prime of his career, Wilt finally won in achieving his vision of winning a title. As a role player for the Los Angeles Lakers, he captured two NBA championships. His growth as a teammate made him an invaluable asset even though his athleticism had diminished from its peak.

“A vision is not just a picture of what could be; it is an appeal to our better selves, a call to become something more.”

A REVELATION: THE BATTLE BETWEEN OUR TECHNOLOGY AND OUR HUMANITY

IS OUR TECHNOLOGY MUTING OUR PERSONAL HUMANITY?

At a specific time in history, God put on human form as we might put on an overcoat. He came in a form we can understand. He heard the cry of our heart for revelation and said, ‘This is what I’m like.’

In today’s world, however, many people are robbed of the chance to discover God even during this Christmas season. They are offered a bit of historical information about the manger scene without the glorious revelation of why He came. So often information triumphs over revelation. This gives rise to a society that is built on technology without truth.

The major claim to acceptance of any new technology is that ‘it works’. Technological development is based on pragmatism, on getting practical results. We buy into new technologies because they give us helpful new techniques for doing everyday things.

Traditionally, technologies came into existence in response to human need. Tools existed because we needed them. We accepted new technologies because they clearly made our lives better. In our time, though, many new techniques exist only because the technology is there to make them possible. In other words, the technology often runs ahead of our ability to decide if it is helpful or not!

In many cases, there is very little discussion about where technology is taking us over all, or about what specific technologies might mean to our basic humanity or our environment. At the moment, for example, there are not too many people who think that human cloning would be a good idea, but few there are very few realists who do not foresee a time when it will not be happening at some level.

Technology thrives on pragmatism and that’s fine, up to a point. We generally love it when we find gadgets that will do things better, faster and more economically. Yet pragmatism on its own can sometimes work against truth. The Bible puts it like this:

‘There is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end it leads to death.’ (Proverbs 14:12)

Sometimes a man-made solution to a problem may seem to work, but it may lead to spiritual and even physical ruin down the road. Only revelation can provide the objective bedrock on which we can base healthy debates on the moral implications of technologies like cloning or gene therapy.

Of course, new technologies have brought with them some great benefits. To say, as some Christians seem to do, that we should fear technology just because it represents change is ridiculous.

Industrial technologies, for example, have enabled us to produce more. In the 1800s, one farmer could produce enough food for about four people. With machinery and fertilizers, one farmer can now produce enough food for about one hundred people.

More recently, information technology has begun to dramatically change the way we buy and sell and even the way we form relationships. Many of us have come to rely on our PDAs  (cell phones, tablets and laptops). For us, they’re more tools than toys. We’ve already seen amazing things, but information technology is still only taking its first baby steps.

With all the desirable effects of technology, though, there are obviously downsides. Environmental pollution and the depletion of natural resources are good examples. Fossil fuels are being used up at a rapid rate and freeways, factories and junkyards clutter up the landscape.

Some psychologists and sociologists are now talking about a new phenomenon they call ‘technological alienation’. The word ‘alienation’ simply means a sense of powerlessness and estrangement. The rapid growth in our reliance on technology does sometimes contribute to alienation between people groups, by, for example, boosting the advantage one group or nation has over another (the technological haves verses the have nots).

In some ways, there’s an even more dangerous kind of alienation — alienation from ourselves. At the most fundamental level, what we are facing today is, in many ways, a battle between our technology and our humanity. There’s a tug of war going on between what we feel in our conscience to be right and what is made possible by modern science.

Jacques Ellul wrote that technology has taken over from Christian faith as the most sacred thing in our western society. Once we couldn’t live without God, but today we can’t live without gadgets.

We’ve invited technology into our workplaces, then into our homes, and now even into our bodies. Before long, medicos will be able to inject tiny robots (‘nanobots’) into your blood stream, to help heal you of your ailments.

Many people today live as if they take it for granted that our technology can, at least in time, meet all our most important needs. But can it?

In the natural world, the principle of entropy says that any natural system left to itself, without any outside energy source, tends to wind down. If I take a kettle of water and plug it into an electric socket and turn it on, it will gradually come to the boil. Once I turn off the power, though, it quickly cools again. Its energy winds down.

It’s the same with us on a spiritual or moral level. Without a constant input of revelation, of truth that is based on God’s character, we tend to sink toward the lowest common denominator.

Without revelation, we will go on making the same mistakes as we have always made. Only as time goes by and our technological power grows, we will make those mistakes on an even bigger scale.

Revelation does not work against technology; it helps us keep technology in check. It helps us ensure that technology remains our servant and never becomes our master.

So as you engage in the Christmas season, giving & receiving, loving & laughing and eating & treating remember to take the time to download some biblical revelation and put your personal technologies in their proper place. Enjoy the human interaction and ponder the divine revelation of why He came and maybe you will receive something truly meaningful to text, tweet or blog about.

🙂

UNSTOPPABLE GROWTH

The Acts of the Apostles

Act 6 – Scene 1

In 1976 Apple Computers launched, it is now trading as simply Apple Inc. This company continued to grow but between 1986-1993 the company started to splutter under competition from Microsoft, and a series of failed products. The company then reinvented itself over a number of years and with the launch of the iMac it returned to profitability. The rest they say is history…

Apple is not on their own in experiencing growing pains.  Any company that wants to move forward goes through the pain of growth. It is not only companies that experience growing pains, but we as humans do too, as we grow from an infant to a toddler etc.

We experience growing pains in other ways too.

It is no different in the life of the church and we see this clearly in Acts 6. Over the previous chapters that we have been reading in Acts, we have witness the dynamic and explosive growth of the early church. In this chapter tension arises between the Hellenists, that is Greek speaking Jews and the Hebrews. The complaint came from the Hellenists in that they were concerned that their widows were not getting cared for in the daily distribution of food etc. It would appear that the apostles were still overseeing the process of these distributions.

So the apostle made a great decision, they appointed men, who were of good reputation, who were full the Spirit and of wisdom to serve in the distribution of the daily provision. This released the apostles to do what they where called to do and it meant that widows were not forgotten or missed out. Had the apostles continued to do everything then it is possible that the growth of the church may have slowed down somewhat, but more certainly than that, there would certainly have been a falling out between the Hellenists and Hebrews.

As it was, the church continued to grow as the number of disciples multiplied!

“And the word of God continued to increase, and the number of the disciples multiplied greatly in Jerusalem, and a great many of the priests became obedient to the faith”.

There are a couple of lessons that we can learn from this passage…

1. When experiencing growth you have to be flexible and adapt quickly to continue growing.

2. People have to concentrate on what only they can do. Leaders need to make space for others to do jobs that they may well be able to do, but do not need to do.

At Bethel we are experiencing incremental growth, which is fantastic but it does present its problems. Thankfully there is a growing momentum of people doing stuff that is enabling mission. We have been able to add to the small group ministry teams, meaning that work load is distributed evenly according to these roles and we have a prayerful team of elders, who recognise that we need to add to the leadership, and thankfully there are people we recognize who could fulfil this function. Please do not get me wrong our focus is not solely on “church growth” but lets face it there are things in church that need be done and developed in order to disciple people well so that we can each make more disciples. Not even to mention the need for more physical space to meet in. These are challenges but with flexibility and obedience to the Holy Spirit, we are expecting more growth as God brings it.

So, by God’s grace and provision, we are getting people into the right places, doing the right roles at the right time. Why? Because, God is gracious and we have learnt the lesson of the apostles in regards to growth and want to continue to grow.

What do you learn from this passage?

As a follower of Jesus how have you experienced growing pains and what did you learn?

How are you going to apply it?

 

COMMUNICATION WITH COMPASSION CREATES CONNECTION


Communication with Compassion Creates Connection

Communication without compassion rarely brings relational connection. When we keep the fundamental differences between men and women in mind, we will become more empathetic and understanding towards each other. Remember women need to feel connected to their spouse, and men need to feel respected.

Communication is not always the answer to creating a healthy relationship. Of course, in all relationships and especially marriage, communication is integral to developing an ongoing mutual connection. But when two people communicate in ways that are not beneficial, it can be destructive.

Building a good marriage comes down to having positive communication that is based on compassion and empathy, as well as having lots of forgiveness, intimacy, sex, and excellent problem solving skills. A lack of any of these things can cause a disconnection between two people in a loving relationship. Problem solving skills are essential because all marriages go through periods of suffering and challenges. When a couple is committed to working through problems with an eye toward discovering the solution, they stand a much better chance of enduring through hardships. Being problem solvers will help a couple work through financial difficulty, health issues, disappointments and setbacks. Forgiveness is essential to moving past the human shortcomings each person brings into a relationship, and intimacy and sex are what keeps a couple in tune with one another.

For the balance of this column, let’s look at the communication aspect of loving relationships between a man and a woman.
The Bible says in Ephesians 5:33 “However, let each man of you [without exception] love his wife as [being in a sense] his very own self; and let the wife see that she respects and reverences her husband, that she notices him, regards him, honors him, prefers him, venerates, and esteems him; and that she defers to him, praises him, and loves and admires him exceedingly.”

This verse provides a glimpse of the fundamental difference between men and women. It also holds the key to communicating effectively. To have a healthy marriage, a man’s communication and action must confirm and demonstrate his love for his wife, and the woman’s communication and action must confirm and demonstrate respect.

It is true that women have a greater need for connection, whereas men have a greater need to feel respected. That’s why when a man doesn’t express his loving affection; there is a problem in the marriage. One recent survey showed that two-thirds of all divorces were initiated by women, and the number one reason for the breakdown was a lack of connection. Obviously, there are a lot of men who have trouble keeping a connection alive with their spouse. It comes down to the daily things in a marriage: Paying attention to things that are important to her, expressing affection, showing her you care by helping around the house or running her a warm bath at the end of a hard day. All those things send a message that she is loved.

Likewise, women need to ensure they aren’t sending disrespectful messages to their spouse. Complaining and blaming him for all the things that are wrong will make a man feel like a failure. Men are by nature problem fixers. His self-worth diminishes when his wife continually focuses on things that are wrong that he can’t fix or blames him for everything. Essentially, the best thing a woman can do to keep her marriage healthy is to show her husband respect by avoiding laying blame and heaps of shame on him, and offer praise and acknowledgment for the wonderful things he does.

One final point about communication: it doesn’t work without compassion and empathy. Conventional wisdom says a couple must talk their way through any marital problem. But words that aren’t carefully spoken can be destructive. Compassion is having sympathy and concern for the sufferings of another, and empathy is simply understanding and sharing the feelings of your loved one. When you keep the fundamental difference between men and women in mind, you will become more empathetic and understanding.

When you strive to always be compassionate, your relationships will rise to a whole new level.

THIS ARTICLE WAS FIRST PUBLISHED BY BLUEHARDWARE AT ARTICLESBASE.COM
Click here for original posting

FAITH PURSUES

In Genesis 12:1-3 we read,

    Now the LORD had said to Abram: “Get out of your country, from your family and from your father’s house, to a land that I will show you. I will make you a great nation; I will bless you and make your name great; and you shall be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and I will curse him who curses you; and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.”

Notice how God says to Abram, “Abram, I’m going to bless you, and you will be a blessing.” But here is what I want you to see: Abram’s being a blessing was tied to being in God’s purpose. He could only become a great blessing if he followed God by faith.

Was there risk involved for Abram? You bet! He had to leave everything that was familiar to him, all of his security, everything that was comfortable and familiar.

He left Ur of the Chaldeans, which history tells us was one of the most highly developed cities of the ancient world. They had cobblestone streets, an underground sewage system, and it was a place of world trade.

Abram left all of that and went out on an adventure by faith, pursuing the purpose that God had for his life. And in pursuing that purpose, God blessed him, and he became a blessing.

But think about this. What if he had stayed back? What if he had said, “I’m secure here; I have it made; I have a nice house and everything I need. I think I will stay put.” We would not even know his name.

Pursue your purpose. In that pursuit your faith will grow.

FORGET FRET

Forget Fret

Worry is something you learn to do.

There is no such thing as a “born worrier.” It is a learned response to life.

“Don’t fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns. Before you know it, a sense of God’s wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down. It’s wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life” (Philippians 4:6–7 MSG)

You learned to worry from two sources:

1. You learned to worry from experience. After years of mistakes, failures, and unfulfilled expectations, you’ve discovered that things don’t always turn out right. Out of these experiences you formed the habit of worrying.

2. You learned to worry from examples. There are many models around you. Studies show that children usually pick up their parent’s worries. Anxious parents raise anxious kids.

Since worry is a learned response to life, it can be unlearned!

The starting point for overcoming worry is to realize it is useless. It does you no good to worry. It is “stewing without doing.” Worry has never changed anything. Worry cannot change the past. Worry cannot control the future. Worry only makes you miserable today.

Worry has never solved a problem, never paid a bill, and never cured an illness. It only paralyzes you so you can’t work on the solution. Worry is like racing a car when its engine is in neutral; it doesn’t get you anywhere, it just uses up gas.

The Bible teaches, “An anxious heart weighs a man down” (Proverbs 12:25 NIV).

On top of that, worry exaggerates the problem. It plays on your imagination. Have you ever noticed that when you worry about a problem it gets bigger? Every time you repeat if over and over in your mind you tend to add details, amplifying it so you feel worse.

What’s the solution? Instead of worrying, talk to God about what’s worrying you. He is someone who can do something about it.

WHAT IS YOUR SELF LIFE?

NeonGirl

Self-consciousness can kill faith and rob us of our God-given destiny. It is a manifestation of what the Bible calls living in the ‘old self’, because it concentrates more on me and my weaknesses, strengths or needs, than it does on the Lord. Self-consciousness can take on a number of faces. For some people it takes the form of egoism. Whatever our purpose in life, we need big hearts not big heads. I’ve come across people — I’m sure you have, too — who, because of their talent, think they’re God’s gift to planet earth. I feel like packing them off marked ‘return to sender’. Talented people have a responsibility to use their gift for service. When God gives you a lot, he expects a lot… Luke 12:48

For other people, self-consciousness expresses itself in a strong inferiority complex. One of Satan’s favourite ploys is to accuse us of hypocrisy. ‘You’re not qualified to do anything for God,’ he riles. We must remember that success in God’s eyes is not measured by our talent, our qualifications or even our self-esteem. It is measured by our obedience. As we simply obey God, doing all that he tells us to do, we can shrug off the enemy’s jibes, stand tall in faith, and overcome any crippling self-consciousness.

Colossians 3:9-10 ‘…you have taken off your old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator.'(NIV)

Prayer: Father, I humble myself again before you today. I thank you that my worth as a person doesn’t come from my own achievements; it comes from the fact that you love me, that Jesus died for me, and that I can walk in obedience to your purpose for my life.’